Welcome to one of the new articles on MyFantasyFix this season: The DRAFT Preview. DRAFT is able to combine the thrill of a season-long draft with the one-week game of DFS. Finding value is not necessary on DRAFT, but knowing when to take players is crucial. That's what I will be focusing on this article. I will offer strategy for 2-3 person games, 4-6 person games, and 10 person contests. I'll offer some plays for the "Dream Team" contests, where you choose anyone you want to. Along the way, I'll mention players that you can consider in each game format.
If you're new to DRAFT, it is a .5 PPR scoring system with 4 point Passing Touchdowns. Everything else is pretty standard: 1 point for every 25 yards passing, and 10 yards rushing/receiving. Each roster consists of 1 QB, 2 RB, and 2 WR/TE.
H2H or 3-Person Contests
Just like in season-long, I think the way to start any draft is with David Johnson or Le'Veon Bell. They are the elite options compared to the other RBs. Le'Veon Bell gets the top billing and may be busy, with the noted struggles of Ben Roethlisberger on the road. In this game a year ago, Bell went for 146 and a score. He also caught 8 for 55. David Johnson enters in a tie for second for projected points with Aaron Rodgers, but is a clear pick here. LeSean McCoy is third and deservedly so, as he faces the Jets, who just lost Sheldon Richardson. There is enough depth at WR that you can wait before taking them. If I have the chance to take two of these three RB, I'm going to pounce on it. After these three, it gets a big thin. I don't like Melvin Gordon going into Denver and while Devonta Freeman is solid, the Bears are decent against the run so I would expect a solid, but not a huge game from Freeman. Bilal Powell is intriguing as Buffalo gave up over 160 rushing yards a game last year, worst in the league. I worry about the offense around him but Powell is should produce regardless. Atlanta allowed over 120 yards rushing a game last year, making Jordan Howard a nice bet for 100 yards. He would be my other running back in these games.
After that, I think the WR are worth targeting. Julio Jones is #1 on the list and is a worthwhile #1 against a weak Bears secondary. Jordy Nelson is second, probably because he will avoid Richard Sherman. Some combination of Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Odell Beckham (who is ranked 8th among pass catchers on DRAFT) would be the other receivers I take. I could also take Doug Baldwin, who should be quite busy against a generous Packers Secondary. He had 6 for 46 last year in this matchup but it was not Seattle's best game.
Finally, I am waiting on quarterbacks, as the position is deep this week, and should be most weeks. The top two options in this range are in the same game: Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson. WIlson has the better matchup, but Rodgers has the better weapons. Matt Ryan is in play as well with the Bears weakness being the secondary. Whichever one you prefer is fine to go with in this range.
4 and 6 Person Games
As we add more people, the more upside we need to look for in our players. This is more true in 4-person games (25% chance of winning, the smallest % of any of the games). Multiple people get paid once we get to six-person games.
For the running backs, this is where I would include someone like Todd Gurley. The Colts allowed over 24 points a game and 100 yards rushing last year. Gurley should be busy, especially running out the clock with Scott Tolzien starting for the Colts. Freeman and Gordon are plays here since they will have volume and do have multiple score ability, even in tough matchups. Carlos Hyde and Jay Ajayi can also be considered due to their likely three-down role; however, I don't see much upside here with either player. I don't mind taking a chance on DeMarco Murray either, as the Raiders did allow 120 yards rushing a game, 6th worst in the NFL in 2016.
At receiver, there are plenty of options. One receiver that has a lower projection than he should and may be forgotten about until by people who are sorting by projected scores is Amari Cooper. Cooper will see Logan Ryan some of the time, but should avoid him in 3-WR sets. Cooper had 9 targets in this game a year ago, and in one of the highest projected scoring games of the week, carries a lot of upside potential. A.J. Green is my next receiver I would look at, as he has scored a touchdown in five straight games against the Ravens. Dez Bryant, Keenan Allen, and Michael Thomas could be considered here as well due to their big play abilities. One receiver I am fading due to the QB situation is T.Y. Hilton. Scott Tolzien is not a great QB and while the Colts should be trailing, I don't see Hilton getting much quality production. The other concern is the Rams corners are pretty good.
At QB, this is where you have a plethora of options if you don't get Rodgers, Wilson, or Ryan. Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr will be in an expected shootout. Like Cooper, Carr is ranked low on DRAFT, so you should be able to wait on him and get him in the 5th round if he's your guy. Kirk Cousins doesn't have much of a run game and did average 250 yards and two scores last year against Philadelphia. Drew Brees is in a tough matchup against MInnesota, but hard to imagine he struggles so much that he's not a Top 10 QB this week. Finally, Cam Newton against the 49ers is an upside play. He threw for 360 and four touchdowns last year against the 49ers. He is coming off injury, but if healthy against a weak defense, Newton has upside to be top scoring QB this week.
10 Person Leagues
I just mentioned five other quarterbacks in the last tier, and didn't even mention Jameis Winston, Dak Prescott, or Matt Stafford, who are all viable plays. One guy I am avoiding is Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, he is facing the Browns. However, Roethlisberger's road splits the past three years are awful. Last year, he only threw for 167 yards and no touchdowns in Cleveland. Avoid him and take someone else. My plan is to take a quarterback in the fifth and final round since there is a lot of depth at the position.
At running back, options are really thin. I recommend drafting both running backs in the first three rounds. If you do get stuck taking one in the fourth or fifth round, Jacquizz Rodgers will get a start for Tampa Bay and Miami was 9th worst in yards allowed to RB, giving up 114 yards a game in 2016. Christian McCaffrey can be used here as well, though I would like to wait and see on him if possible. Same with Dalvin Cook in a very nice matchup against the Saints. Lamar Miller, Leonard Fournette, and Isaiah Crowell can be used here late, if you need them.
For Wide Receivers, I would draft them before the fifth round. Terrelle Pryor should have a field day against Jalen Mills, who was ranked as one of the worst cornerbacks last season. Jordan Reed is fine here too. Alshon Jeffery may avoid Josh Norman, and the Redskins don't have anyone else at CB. Michael Crabtree is an option if you want exposure to the Raiders, and Cooper is gone. Devante Parker draws a favorable matchup against Vernon Hargreaves. I also don't mind looking at Kelvin Benjamin, Pierre Garcon, or Sammy Watkins as a WR2.
Lastly, I have to answer a question I could see someone asking: What should I do with Darren McFadden or Ezekiel Elliott? If it's Mcfadden, I would take him in 10-person contests. If it's Elliott, I think you can use him in 4 or 6-person contests, though wouldn't fault you if you chose him in 2 or 3 person contests.
You may see Dream Team Contests. This is DRAFT's version of DFS, but without a salary cap. You simply choose your best roster and see how it does against everyone else's best five. While it would be easy to plug in Rodgers, Bell, Johnson, Brown, and Jones and be done, that would probably be a very popular lineup combination. Taking a risk or two here is what will get you a different lineup and better chance to win this contest.
At quarterback, I'm avoiding Rodgers due to expected popularity. Russell Wilson is probably my favorite play here against the Packers. If you like one of the lower ranked quarterbacks better, go with that QB, as they all should be low owned.
At running back, it's hard to get away from David Johnson. I'll take him and differentiate my lineup elsewhere. I won't argue against Le'Veon Bell either, but if you want to avoid a Johnson/Bell combo, I like the idea of going with McCoy, Powell, Murray, or Howard as a second running back.
At Wide Receiver, I like the idea of stacking with a quarterback. Since I like Russell Wilson, I would pair him up with Doug Baldwin. Same with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, and Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. If Odell Beckham remains questionable for most of the week, he makes for a great choice if he ends up going on Sunday night. I will fade Antonio Brown due to expected popularity and the Ben Roethlisberger narrative on the road.
No matter the format, take running back early, then take receivers, and wait on quarterback until the fifth round. The more people in the contest, the more upside you need to consider out of your third and fourth round picks. Be on the lookout for the Fantistics listener league on DRAFT, as it will be posted by many of the Fantistics and MyFantasyFix writers on Twitter this weekend, and I'm sure Dan Clasgens and James Adams will give out the details on the SiriusXM show on Saturday morning. Good luck with all of your week one NFL contests!